Tuesday and Thursday 9: 30-10: 45



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Eric Williams

Lit 1101

Tuesday and Thursday 9:30-10:45

Gran Torino is a movie about Walt Kowalski, a Korean War veteran, who recently lost his wife. Throughout the movie, Walt creates many bonds with the other characters. Although the relationships he forms with the others aren’t the example of a typical relationship, he manages to form a friendship with the young Hmong boy, Thao, next door. He also forms high-tension relationships with the local Hmong gang. While dealing with the neighborhood drama, Walt also has to put up with his crazy family who doesn’t give him the respect he feels he deserves. The bond between Walt and his family isn’t very strong in the beginning because he doesn’t approve of the way they raise their kids. The relationships that Walt Kowalski forms with his neighbors, family, and the Hmong gang all differentiate one another.

As the film starts, Walt is at the funeral of his newly deceased wife. His kids and grandkids are disrespectful. First, one of his grandkids, while Walt was kneeling down to pray, says “spectacles, testicles, wallet, and watch” instead of “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” This action provokes a look of “I’m going to kill those rotten kids” to come across Walt’s face. Next, when the precession is going on, Walt’s kids start to joke about what they should do with him now that he is all alone in his house.

When Thao was challenged by his cousin, a Hmong gang member, to steal the car as an initiation into the gang, he was reluctant to take this challenge but eventually he gave in. When his plan of stealing the ’72 Grand Torino is foiled, Thao almost got shot by Walt. This is the first meeting between the two main characters. The next time these two characters cross paths is when Thao’s sister and mom drag him over to Walt’s house and make him apologize and offer to work off his debt. This meeting between the two families seems to have an awkward “rub” about them. Thao’s relationship with Walt grows stronger when the man protected him from being forced to join the Hmong gang. Walt’s defending of Thao shows that Walt approves of Thao being his neighbor and wouldn’t want him to be forced to join something that could get him into trouble.



Finally, the gang of Hmong has a controversial relationship with every character in the film. The first time that the gang is introduced a fiery meeting between themselves and a rival gang breaks out. The two gangs exchange some words then quickly show their guns to each other. When the Hmong gang shows an automatic gun the rival gang leaves. The next place where the gang is met is at Thao’s house when they are recruiting him. When Thao’s sister catches word about this happening, she tries to stop it. This breaks out into a fight between Thao’s family and the Hmong gang. But when one of them step on to Walt’s yard, he is quick to draw a rifle and aim it at the gang members, subsequently saving Thao from being forced into the gang. In the final interaction between the gang and Walt, Walt walks up and calls them out of their house. The gang members pop out of their house with guns. When Walt reaches into his jacket, they open fire when he never had a gun on him. This last meeting ended up in a blood bath and the gang members going to jail.

Throughout the movie Gran Torino, the characters are all changing, both in positive and negative ways. They begin to form different relationships with other people around them. Some of the relationships cause conflicts, while others bring two opposite families closer. The main character, Walt Kowalski, defended himself and his Hmong neighbor from the local gang. Walt encounters many issues while building these different relationships, such as Thao trying to steal his ’72 Gran Torino. The movie ends with the death of Walt Kowalski, but he manages to have built a good enough relationship with his neighbors and family for them to give him the care he deserved.


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